Saturday, January 26

Review: Achtung! Cthulu Tactics [Nintendo Switch eShop]


While there have always tended to be tactical turn-based RPGs on consoles, for the most part classic tactical strategy games like X-Com have tended to exclusively be in the PC realm. While Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle did a great job of introducing Nintendo fans to elements of that style, the Mario license and more lighthearted tone may have turned some people away as well (though, make no mistake, it is excellent despite its colorful looks). Tonally moving in a very different direction, mixing Nazis with an ancient evil, we have Achtung! Cthulu Tactics, a game that feels much more consistent, at least visually, with that classic PC strategy franchise.


Starting with what works each of your squad members has a general role based on their weapons and abilities. You’ll need to pretty quickly get accustomed to who best fulfills which function as it can be embarrassing to put a unit with a shotgun at range to cover their allies. As you progress you’ll get opportunities to further fine tune your units to better suit your overall style in the form of skill and weapon upgrades but the upgrade path feels mostly linear, not really allowing for much tactical variety.


Gameplay consists of your squad exploring territories until you get close to an enemy squad, at which time the game moves into a tactical battle mode. Each unit has their own action points, which you’ll need to keep an eye on as you plot out your movement and general plan of attack. In addition there’s a squad-wide pool of momentum points that you’re able to use at your discretion, whether that’s to get in some extra movement, finish off an enemy with a sidearm, or use a more substantial attack. While eventually the theme gets a little more interesting and crazy you’ll spend quite a lot of time knocking out pretty generic units. It would have been nice to see a little more of that flavor earlier on but I suppose the goal was to save the surprise for dessert.


Since this game is so blatantly inspired by X-Com it invites comparisons, and in a few areas that’s a bit brutal. The first weakness is with your pretty static squad composed of the same characters throughout, and who are pretty well locked into their roles. The threat of losing units in X-Com is pretty consistent, whether for a few battles or permanently, but the other strength it has is that you’re able to take some risks by playing with the combinations of unit types to better suit your style of play. Consistent with X-Com it can be maddening how you’re somehow able to get one of your squad members right on top of an enemy and manage to miss, but I suppose that’s just the nature of the genre. Perhaps a bit more unforgivable is the weak AI that will allow an enemy unit to show some smarts by flanking you but then utterly failing to capitalize on it the majority of the time. Enemy unit diversity, especially early on, is certainly lacking as well, and the lack of a research mechanic means the game doesn’t consistently challenge you to take risks like getting up close to incapacitate a deadly enemy for the sake of taking them back to be poked and prodded for intel.


As a first draft attempt to represent the tactical strategy genre Achtung! Cthulu Tactics does a decent job of setting a foundation. For people who aren’t so familiar with the likes of the X-Com series it may actually be pretty satisfying since you wouldn’t necessarily then see the missed opportunities. For veterans and the genre, though, while it has elements that work pretty well it will probably feel a bit too easy and shallow to be very satisfying.

Score: 6.5

Pros:
  • Once it gets further in and a bit more crazy it begins to come together
  • For tactical strategy novices it’s a pretty easy-going introduction to the genre
  • On the whole it gets the feel and strategy elements like finding cover right

Cons:
  • Overall it’s too easy and you don’t feel the threat from permanently losing squad members
  • The loss of a major research component removes meta strategies and high risk high reward elements from missions
  • A little too much generic Nazi and not enough Cthulu